Thursday, October 30, 2008

MAKE ROOM! MAKE ROOM! by Harry Harrison

Make Room! Make Room! is a 1966 science fiction novel by Harry Harrison. Set in a vastly overpopulated New York City of the future, it is, on the surface, a whodunit, although it has particularly more to do with overpopulation, lack of resources, and the societal effects of such developments.

Harrison’s writing is well-paced, his world is immersive, and his characters are well done, although it’s awfully convenient how often they happen to run into each other in a city of 35 million people. His tone is fairly bleak, and it’s obvious he’s got a message to communicate. And his concerns about the amount of resources the U.S. consumes are still relevant.

To those familiar with Soylent Green, the film this novel inspired, know that that movie’s creators went in an entirely different direction thematically. Charlton Heston’s classic Soylent Green moment is nowhere to be found here. Harrison’s theme is population control, specifically through birth control and sustainable development. Harrison bludgeons the reader over the head with this toward the end of the book, when the main character’s roommate launches into a rather lengthy soliloquy on the birds and the bees, in which he sings the praises of preventative birth control. This is rather out of place, and reminiscent of the way Upton Sinclair presented his socialist propaganda at the end of The Jungle.

Make Room! Make Room! is a solid, entertaining science fiction novel, with a still-relevant social message.